Russian intelligence agencies have stepped up their efforts to hack into the computer networks of US governments and their allies. And this, in order to gather information.
Microsoft has released a new intelligence report titled “Defending Ukraine: First Lessons from Cyber Warfare”. He is interested in two aspects of war. On the one hand, Russian efforts in cyberattacks, and on the other, the country’s espionage activities against allied governments, non-profit organizations and other organizations outside of Ukraine.
Clearly, since the invasion of Ukraine, Russian cyber attacks have become more and more frequent. Other findings, hacker groups would start attacking more specific targets and vulnerabilities should increase with the rise of digital technologies.
Piracy at the service of war
According to Microsoft, outside of Ukraine, American organizations were the main target of Russian hacking attempts, followed by Poles. On a larger scale, the alleged Russian hack would have spread to 42 countries. NATO members are among the main targets and have reportedly increased attacks on Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Turkey. From governments to think tanks to humanitarian groups, Russian hackers have also targeted a variety of sectors that may contain valuable war-related information.
“Destructive cyberattacks are just one part of a broader effort by the Russian government to harness its sophisticated computing capabilities for its war effort”says the report.
Government agencies, target number 1
In figures, 128 organizations were attacked and 49% of the affected entities are government agencies. 12% of targets were NGOs, most often “foreign policy think tanks or humanitarian groups providing aid to the Ukrainian civilian population or support to refugees”. Corporate IT departments account for 20% of victims. According to the report, all these actors represent “a range of strategic espionage targets that may be involved in direct or indirect defense support of Ukraine”.
On the performance side, these hacking attempts would have managed to bypass defense systems in 29% of cases. A quarter of this 29% was used for data theft.
Fight against disinformation
The document also addresses the case of disinformation. In short, Microsoft analyzes the Russian disinformation policy on the war and the case of the coronavirus vaccine. This is how Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, says that he wants to interact with other gamers. And this, in order to counteract the efforts and effects of the Russian disinformation strategy. Therefore, by way of conclusion, the document calls for a coordinated and comprehensive strategy to strengthen collective defenses. And this, thanks to the collaboration of the private sector, the public sector, non-profit organizations and civil society.
Note that Microsoft has clarified that its report is not a true overview of piracy. This is because some customers store their data on their own systems rather than on Microsoft’s cloud computing infrastructure.